New Delhi: Indian Railways' most modern production unit, the Modern Coach Factory (MCF) in Rae Bareli, producing around 2,000 coaches each year, is seething with anger over the ministry's 100-day plan proposing corporatisation of its manufacturing units and workshops.
On Tuesday, when the director general, personnel, visited the factory, he was accosted by over 2,500 workers who raised "go back" slogan.
L N Pathak, the general secretary of Rail Coach Factory Men's Union, Modern Coach Factory, said, "This is unit is aiming to produce 2,158 coaches in the current fiscal. Two years back we used to produce 750. Imagine the growth. There are 2,500 staff here, around 1,700 of whom were directly posted through RRBs. They take pride in the fact that they are part of the Railways' most modern and technologically advanced factory."
"Now, we get to know, not from Railways but from news reports, that they are planning to hive us off to companies. We will resist this. While work has not been affected yet, we are holding rallies, meetings and protesting before work at 7:30 am, during lunch and after work," he said.
In its plan, the Railways has said that with an aim to bring in increased efficiency in production, it was looking to hive off its rolling stock and locomotive production units and associated workshops into a new government-owned entity called "Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company".
According to the document prepared by the Railway Board, Indian Railways will conduct a detailed study of seven of its production units, namely, Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) in West Bengal, Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, Rail Coach Factory (RCF) in Kapurthala, Diesel Modernization Works (DMW) in Patiala, Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) in Varanasi, Wheel & Axle Plant in Bangalore, and Modern Coach Factory (MCF) in Rae Bareli.
Sources said, MCF could be the first such unit to be handed over for corporatisation.
Pathak said that workers are both "angry" and "sad" at the developments and the future of not just the workers but also that of the Railways were at stake.
"When we started producing the coaches in 1995, it cost around Rs 5.6 crore to make a LHB coach. Now, it takes just about Rs 2.3 crore. We are producing the coaches at such low costs that even global companies are wary. For us, this is a fight for our existence," said Pathak.
The workers are now waiting for a final decision from the Chairman, Railway Board, V K Yadav, who is currently abroad.